philip lelyveld The world of entertainment technology


USC Alumnus debuts ‘Neon AR’ augmented reality application

The world of augmented reality has made incredible strides in recent years, and now USC students will be among the first to demo one of the most exciting apps in the field to date. Utilizing the burgeoning technology of AR, the new app Neon AR will make it easier to meet up with friends and navigate to points of interest. With its social-friendly interface, the app is designed to give users a fun experience that complements the practicality of the service it provides.

I thought to myself, ‘Wouldn’t it be amazing if we came back to this spot years later, with friends or kids, and I was able to open my phone and see a neon sign, saying this is where David camped on July 10, 2015?’” he said. “That was the genesis of it, the ability to expand a new layer on the world, and have a more engaging visceral connection with the physical world.”

Neon AR works by latching on to the user’s phone’s GPS signal, and then digitizing their real world location onto the phone with the onboard camera. When trying to find a user’s friend, the app positions a beacon that remains in place on the screen, allowing them to make their way over to them with the virtual aid. The user interface incorporates fun elements to enliven the experience, and make the on-screen world even more engaging.

Neon, a new app created by alumnus Dave Urbina, augments reality by allowing users to see virtual makers showing where their friends are and “shoot” 3D emojis at people with the app in close proximity. Photo courtesy of Dave Urbina.

Founder Dave Urbina attended USC, and said that conducting beta testing with students at his alma mater was an easy decision.

“The way that you interact in the app, you can shoot 3-D emojis at people,” Urbina said. “So I shoot emojis at Tim and he gets a push notification, so he opens his phone and turns in my direction, and they come zooming at him, and he can fire back.

Urbina sees the app becoming popular at massive gatherings such as Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, where meeting up with groups amid large crowds can often be difficult.

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